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Reiki Circle Reflections

It’s been six months since our inaugural Reiki Circle, it’s time for some reflection!

The inspiration for a monthly Reiki Circle came to me over two years ago, but it took almost a year and a half to develop the right setting and delivery of this form of Reiki. I have never seen anyone practice Reiki in the way I was envisioning, and wasn’t sure what to expect.

I wanted to offer Reiki in a group setting, because the energy of multiple people in a healing space together is very powerful. The cherry on top turned out to be adding a guided meditation to the experience. When practicing Reiki, especially remote healing, I am sent on a journey complete with visualizations and tactile sensations. Sharing this experience with others (by leading a guided meditation) turned out to make all the difference while offering Reiki in a group. Individuals were able to go on their own journey within themselves, while simultaneously being immersed in the collective healing energy of the group.

So last fall I took the plunge, e-mailed all my Reiki lovers and created a Meetup group. The first circle was small, but very powerful. I was amazed at the response. Every month since then the group has grown, we gather with a mix of both new faces and dedicated Reiki Circle go-ers who don’t miss a meeting.

Every session starts with the delicate sounds of the quartz singing bowl, and from there the Reiki starts to flow and we are transported to a beautiful space of healing and transformation. The bulk of the meditation is focused on a specific intention for the day, which is different every month--working with a particular chakra, element, emotion, mantra, or idea. Included are visualizations and exercises to bring awareness to physical, mental, or emotional sensations that often go unnoticed in our bodies.

As the circle comes to a close and the singing bowl gently brings everyone back to the present moment, it is a real gift for me to watch every person slowly open their eyes, visibly relaxed with a soft smile on their face. Refreshed, like they had just woken from a deep, restorative sleep. Everyone leaves a little lighter than when they came in.

Every month, I look forward to sharing this with others. The Reiki Circle offers a gentle introduction to Reiki for those who are not familiar with it. And for the more experienced, this is a chance to practice in a new way.

I hope you join us next month!

More information about the Reiki Circle, and upcoming meetings here on the Meetup site.

Reiki Circle Reflections,

A Balanced Spring Diet

The last blog post talked about using the spring energy to assist us in planning and goal-setting, our vision in life. In this post, we’ll talk about how you can incorporate the element of wood into your diet this spring to maximize your health.

The movement of the wood element and springtime is upward and outward. Everything comes alive--plants sprout up from the ground, animals come out of hibernation, people spend more time outside walking, running, or playing in the sun. To make a smooth and healthy transition into the spring, it is best to adjust our diet to reflect these changes in the environment.

We want to eat foods that are light and fresh, that will support us in moving our bodies as the weather gets warmer. More specifically, our diet should consist of foods that have an expansive quality and will support our Liver, the organ system that is associated with the wood element and spring.

A Balanced Spring Diet,

What should you eat?

Lots of fresh vegetables! Limit heavy, processed, fried foods, and excessive amounts of dairy as they are denser foods with downward and stagnating qualities. Remember, this time of year is all about movement and expansiveness.

Sprouts: Is there any better way to be in harmony with the environment and the sprouting plants of spring than by putting them right in your body?

Eat things like:                                                                                                                       • Alfalfa sprouts, mung bean sprouts, sprouted grains
Here's some more information on sprouting your own grains at home.

Green foods: Green is the color associated with the Liver/Wood system. By eating lots of green things, we are aligning ourselves with the energy of the spring.                            

Eat things like:                                                                                                                       • Kale, dandelion/collard/mustard greens

Pungent and Sweet foods: These flavors are expansive in nature, and will support the increased movement of the spring.

Eat things like:                                                                                                                       • Sweet flavor: Sweet potato, beets, cabbage                                                                     • Pungent flavor: Horseradish, ginger, black pepper

Small amounts of Sour foods: Sour is the flavor that is associated with the Liver system and Wood element and will help to balance these systems in the body.

Eat things like:                                                                                                                       • Citrus fruits (a slice of lemon or tablespoon of raw Apple Cider Vinegar with warm water in the morning), vinegar, pickles

Herbs to support the Wood Element within your body:                                                       • Mint, Rosemary, Fennel, Basil, Dill

Try to incorporate some of these things into your daily eating habits, and notice how you feel.

Happy Spring!

Spring: A Time for Growth

Spring is ALMOST here, it’s so close we can feel it. The rainy and snowy weather this week has been keeping some people down, both physically and emotionally. So I’m going to let you in on a little secret to help usher in the spring energy.

In TEAM (Traditional East Asian Medicine), every season is associated with an element. The spring is all about the element of Wood.

Think fresh, new plant life bursting up from the earth after lying dormant all winter long under the hard, frozen ground.

Think movement, growth, inspiration, expansion.

Spring: A Time for Growth,

The Wood element is in charge of vision and planning in your life.                              

What is it that you want to do?                                                                                       What steps will you need to take to get there?

That’s what the Wood element is all about--coming up with a clear plan so that you can set and accomplish your goals in life. And because the spring season is ruled by this element, it means that this energy is heightened and more easily accessed than at other times of the year. Take advantage of it! Use all of the wisdom and insight you gained from the winter to plan ahead for the future. 

Do you want a new job or promotion at work? Do you want to remodel your house? Do you want to start a meditation practice? Run a marathon? Learn a new skill? Take a trip?

Now is the time to set a vision for what that goal will look like and the steps you will take towards making it a reality!

 

If you are still feeling slow and sluggish as we come out of the winter, look for the next blog post when we will talk about some more ways that you can embrace the energy of Wood within your body with food and lifestyle changes.

New Year, New Nourished You: Eating Seasonally in the Winter

For many people, New Year’s resolutions include trying to be healthier, eat better, or lose weight. A popular trend is to choose a detox or cleanse program to reach these goals. But, these are not always the best choice for the winter season. Read on to find out why, and what you can do instead!

You may be surprised to learn that your diet should change depending on the time of year. This idea goes way back to a time before packaged foods or refrigeration. People ate what was available, depending on the time of year and what environment they were in. Here in the Northeast, there is not much vegetation in the wintertime. Animal meat was a primary source of food, and the diet included more fat and calorie dense food to survive the winter.

That’s all well and good, but what does it mean for us living in the modern world? In the viewpoint of TEAM (Traditional East Asian Medicine), eating foods that are in season will help to keep us in optimum health, in sync with the cycles of nature. In the winter, our diet should be predominantly warm and nourishing, to balance the cold weather outside.

We have been hard-wired to believe that if we want to be healthy, salads, raw vegetables, and morning smoothies are the best way to go--regardless of the time of year. But, if we look through this lens of seasonal eating, that’s not really the case. In fact, eating a lot of these things can be less than beneficial for many people, especially if you are prone to digestive issues, feeling cold, or fatigue.

I’ve experienced this first hand. Some years ago, in an effort to be “healthier” in the new year, I started juicing in the morning. After about a week, I had daily headaches and diarrhea. I shifted my focus from trying to cleanse my body of all its “toxins” to nourishing my body and giving it what it needed to feel warm and comforted. And sure enough, after changing my diet (and my mindset) I started to feel better and stronger, feeling the healing happening from the inside.

(There is a time for gentle cleansing and detox, which is the springtime. We’ll talk more about that in another blog post when the time comes.)

New Year, New Nourished You: Eating Seasonally in the Winter,

Here are some ways you can incorporate seasonal eating into your life:

Include more:

  • Cooked foods (try roasting your vegetables rather than eating them raw)
  • Soups, stews, and homemade bone broth
  • Healthy fats: grass-fed butter and meat, coconut and olive oils, nuts
  • Root vegetables: carrots, parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes
  • Warming spices: pepper, ginger, cinnamon, fennel, garlic, cloves
  • Black beans and navy beans
  • Hot tea/warm beverages
  • Small amounts of salty things: seaweed, miso soup
    (Salt is grounding and centering, bringing warmth deeper into our bodies during the winter months.)

Limit:

  • Cold foods and drinks: Ice cream, yogurt, smoothies, iced coffee
  • Raw Foods: raw vegetables/salads, sushi


Try shifting your attention and intention this new year: think about NOURISHING your body, rather than CLEANSING it. Live in harmony with the energy of the season; your body will thank you for it.  

Winter: A Time for Slowing Down

The holiday season is officially upon us, and for many people this means stress levels are high--gifts need to be bought, travel and holiday arrangements need to be made, family issues may surface. We often get so caught up in the hustle and bustle that we forget to make time to care for ourselves.

Let’s take a look through the lens of TEAM (Traditional East Asian Medicine) to see just what that means in these cold winter months.

In a previous post, we talked about the season of autumn and the importance of letting go of unnecessary thought patterns, habits, ideas or beliefs. Now that we are moving into winter, it’s time to go inward and use that space we have created from letting go, to find deep peace and stillness in our lives. Take a look at the natural world around: plants are dormant, the trees have shed all of their leaves, animals are going into hibernation, the days are short and the nights are cold. Everything is sleeping, resting, replenishing; preparing to come alive again in the spring.

This time of year we should consolidate our energy to replenish ourselves, just like nature does. Go to bed early, sleep in late. Stay at home instead of going out. Choose a warm, nourishing meal or a cup of tea over a cold salad and a smoothie. Change your exercise routine from intense workouts to tai chi or yoga. Reflect on your life and find stillness in the depths of the darkness.

And most importantly, slow down.

This doesn’t mean that you should hibernate in a cave all winter and wait until spring time to emerge, but it is important to “go with the flow” as they say. Tap into the natural rhythm of the season. It’s not the easiest thing to do given the chaos of the holidays, but find small ways to slow down throughout the day:

  • Stop and take a deep breath when you notice you are stressed out. Alternatively, make it a point to pause multiple times during the day: every time you get in the car, sit down to eat, go to the bathroom, or make a phone call.
  • Sit and enjoy breakfast instead of rushing out the door in the morning with a coffee in your hand.
  • Turn off your cellphone and computer in the evening and take a break from e-mails, texts, and social media.

 

This holiday season, give yourself a break. Take your time. Don’t stress about the details. Embrace the peace and stillness of the cold, dark winter.  

Can't Sleep? Try This!

Getting a good, restful sleep is one aspect of health that is often overlooked. Our bodies need sleep in order to heal and grow. Here are a few tips to help you catch some ZZZs.

1. Get enough exercise during the day.
Our bodies are made to move, and if we don’t expend enough energy during the day it might be hard to fall asleep at night. Our lifestyle is quite sedentary compared to what it used to be, many of us spend the day at a desk or behind a computer.

Try moving your body a little more. If you can’t incorporate regular exercise into your day: Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park further away than usual. Go outside for a brisk walk on your lunch break. Practice ten minutes of stretching or yoga before going to bed.

2. Turn off your screens before bed.
Technology like cellphones, TVs, and iPads emit blue wavelengths of light. This blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, which is needed to regulate our sleep cycle. Simply put, screen time at night tricks our brains into thinking it is daytime.

Try limiting screen time (or better yet, turn off your devices) a few hours before going to bed.

3. Breathe deeply.                                                                                                               We carry a lot of stress around with us. Taking a few minutes to let go and relax at the end of the day can help to fall asleep easier and sleep more soundly.

Try a breathing exercise while lying in bed. Inhale deeply for 4 counts, and exhale for 5 counts. As you inhale, bring into your mind something that caused you stress, worry, or anger throughout the day. As you exhale, allow that feeling to leave your body with your breath and feel your muscles release any tension they might be holding. Start with 3 breaths, and see if you can work your way up to 10.

4. Eat light at night.                                                                                                     Eating a heavy dinner or eating late at night can make it harder to fall asleep. Your body needs energy to digest food, which can keep you awake for a few hours after you eat.

Try not to eat a few hours before hitting the hay.

5. Enjoy a cup of tea before bed.                                                                                     The ritual of making and drinking a cup of tea will help you to unwind after a long day. Aromatic herbs like chamomile, lemon balm or lavender will calm your mind and body, making it easier to relax and ultimately, fall asleep.

Try a cup of herbal tea before going to bed. Sit quietly and let the warmth and aroma of the tea soothe your senses while you sip.

 

These tips work best for mild or occasional insomnia. If you consistently have trouble with your sleep, give us a call and come in for an acupuncture treatment.                   Sweet dreams!

Can't Sleep? Try This!, Photo Credit: Erica Robinson Photography

Fall: A Time for Letting Go

It’s that time of year again, folks! The nights are long, the air is crisp, the smell of pumpkin pie and warm apple cider fills our homes. But the TEAM (Traditional East Asian Medicine) view of autumn is much more than cozy sweaters and cinnamon spice. It’s a time for contemplation, reflection, and letting go of that which does not serve us.

The summer months are fulled with activity--days are long, plants and wildlife are alive and thriving, and we spend more time outside doing things like swimming and barbecuing. As we move into the winter, everything slows down--the days are shorter, animals go into hibernation, plants are dormant, and we spend more time inside getting cozy under a blanket.

Our body and mind should reflect the changes that are happening in the environment. Letting go of unnecessary burdens in our lives allow us to connect with ourselves more deeply, and find peace in our hearts.

While I was walking in the woods the other day, I started to notice individual leaves as they fell from the trees. I was awe-struck, and had to stop and sit to watch them. Have you ever watched a single leaf fall from a tree? It’s mesmerizing. I probably spent a half hour simply watching the leaves as the fell to the ground, one by one, swiftly and gently. Some would get caught in a glimmer of sunlight, some would pick up a little gust of wind and twirl around and around in many directions, some would bypass any other branches or leaves and fall straight to the ground. No matter how, they all found their way to the ground with poise and ease.

Fall: A Time for Letting Go, Photo credit: Erica Robinson Photography

Watching the leaves fall from the trees was a beautiful reflection of what our bodies and minds need at this time of year.

Shed what does not serve us.

Just as the trees let go of their leaves to get through the winter, so must we let go of thought patterns, habits, ideas, beliefs that are not for our highest and greatest good, that do not support our health and growth as human beings.

This applies to physical things, too--clothes you haven't worn in years, old books you haven't read, anything you save because you "might need it some day".

Take some time for meditation, reflection and contemplation this season: do you have any limiting beliefs about yourself? Holding onto a grudge that is only weighing you down? Is your house cluttered with things that you don’t use anymore?

LET. THEM. GO.

You’ll be amazed at how much lighter you feel when you do.